CHRIST THE WONDER-WORKER
Yet one more matter claims our attention before we bring this little book to a close. It is the high place—rather the supreme place—which is accorded to Jesus by the Qur’an with regard to His miracles. In several places of the Qur’an the miracles of Jesus are referred to. Thus in Sura Al-Ma’idah (5), verses 110, we read:—
إِذْ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا عِيسى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَى وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدتُّكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلاً وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْراً بِإِذْنِي وَتُبْرِىءُ الأَكْمَهَ وَالأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوتَى بِإِذْنِي
"When God said, O Jesus, son of Mary, remember my favour towards thee and towards thy mother, when I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit that thou shouldst speak unto men in the cradle, and when thou art of middle age; and when I taught thee scripture and wisdom and the Tourat and the Injil, and when thou didst create of clay as it were the figure of a bird by my permission, and didst breathe thereon and it became a bird by my permission, and thou didst heal one blind from his birth and the leper by my permission, and when thou didst bring forth the dead from their graves by my permission.”
In this passage of the Qur’an, we have a very startling account of the miracles of Jesus Christ; for not only is it said that He cured various diseases and raised the dead, but it is also stated that he created a bird! Of no other prophet is it ever stated, either in the Bible or the Qur’an, that he performed an act of creation, though various miracles of many prophets are recorded in both books. Yet here we find the same word (خلق) used for this miracle of Jesus which the Qur’an uses when it describes the creation of the world by God. Surely, every candid reader of the Qur’an must be struck with this remarkable passage, witnessing, as it does, in such a striking manner to the infinite superiority of Jesus over all other prophets.
Someone may object that the passage of the Qur'an quoted above simply states that Jesus created a bird ‘by the permission’ of God, and that, therefore, Christ’s power to create was only a delegated power. Even granting this, however, it still remains true that such language is used of no other prophet. Jesus still stands high above all the rest. Moreover, in a certain sense, this witness of the Qur’an agrees with that of the Injil, which also invariably describes Jesus as doing everything in accordance with the will of God. Jesus Himself said, “I can do nothing of myself, but, as the Father taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). At the same time the Injil distinctly states that Jesus had power in Himself to work miracles; and in this respect He differs from all other prophets. Thus He says, “I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” 11
The Injil records many of the miracles of Jesus, such as healing the sick, walking on the sea, raising the dead, etc.; and from it we also learn some of the reasons for which those miracles were wrought. Thus Jesus tells us that one of the principal reasons for His miracles was that they might constitute the seal and witness of His divine mission. On one occasion we find Him pointing to His miracles and thus addressing the people, “The works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works which I do bear witness of me” (John 5:36). Muhammad taught the same great truth. Thus in a tradition of Huraira recorded by Muslim, we read that Muhammad said,
مَا مِنْ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا قَدْ أُعْطِيَ مِنْ الْآيَاتِ مَا مِثْلُهُ آمَنَ عَلَيْهِ الْبَشَرُ
“There has been no prophet but has been given miracles in order that people might believe on him.” 12 Reason tells us that such testimony and witness is necessary for any prophet who comes into the world with a new revelation or a new law; and if Jesus Christ had not shown such credentials, people would naturally have doubted His claims. Moses, in like manner, when given the Tourat, worked many miracles, some of which are recorded in the Qur’an, in order to attest his prophetic office. Some prophets, it is true, such as John the Baptist, worked no miracles, and the reason is not far to seek; for John the Baptist did not come with a new law as did Moses and Christ. John was simply a herald to prepare the way for Christ, as is clear from a reference to the Injil. Thus we read that, when the Jews asked John, “Who art thou?” he replied, “I am not the Messiah . . . . I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord . . . . In the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not, even He, who cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose . . . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:19-29). John brought no new law, consequently he needed not the witness of miracles; but when Christ came and preached the Gospel, he worked many wonderful miracles in order that people might believe Him “for the very works’ sake.”
Out of this matter arises another very important consideration, namely, If Muhammad was sent with a revelation front God, and was entrusted with a law, which, according to some Muslims, cancels all previous ones, then it was certainly most essential that he also should work miracles in order to afford proof of his divine mission. The Traditions, it is true, record many such miracles; but these Traditions were written many years after the death of Muhammad, and are conflicting and untrustworthy. There is a saying of Muhammad that, “Whensoever ye shall hear aught about me, then turn to the book which I have left with you; and if it conform thereto, and there be mention of the same in it, then it is true that I said or did what is related of me; but if there be no mention of it in the book, then I am free therefrom, and that which is related of me is a lie; I neither said nor did it.” Now let us, in accordance with this saying of Muhammad, examine the Qur’an as to its testimony upon the important question as to whether he worked miracles. That testimony is clear, and shows that Muhammad consistently disclaimed the power to work miracles. From the many passages of the Qur’an to this effect, we cull two or three by way of illustration, which will not only conclusively show that in respect of miracles Muhammad was much inferior to Christ, but which throw grave doubt upon Muhammad's claim to be a prophet of God entrusted with a new revelation and a final law. A slight acquaintance with the Qur’an will show that the Arabs again and again came to Muhammad and demanded from him some miracle as a proof of his divine mission; but his answer was invariably the same, namely, that he was only a preacher, and had not the power to do as they asked. Thus in Sura Ar-Ra'd (13), verse 7, we find these significant words,
وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَوْلآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرٌ
“The unbelievers say, Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord? Thou art a preacher only.” Again in Sura Al-Ankabut (29), verse 50, it is written,
وَقَالُوا لَوْلاَ أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ قُلْ إِنَّمَا الآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ
"They said, Why is not a sign sent down unto him from his Lord? say, signs are in the power of God alone, and I am only a clear preacher.” Again, still more explicitly in Sura Al-Isra' (17), verse 59, we have the reason given why Muhammad did not work miracles.
وَمَا مَنَعَنَا أَن نُّرْسِلَ بِالآيَاتِ إِلاَّ أَن كَذَّبَ بِهَا الأَوَّلُونَ
“Nothing hindered us from sending thee with miracles, except that the former (nations) have charged them with imposture.”
These passages teach beyond a shadow of a doubt that Muhammad disclaimed all power to work miracles, his invariable reply being that the Qur’an itself was a sufficient miracle. Thus in Sura Al-Ankabut (29), verse 51, it is written,
أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أَنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ
“Is it not sufficient for them that we have sent down unto thee the book?” The greatest commentators of the Qur’an such as Razi, Baizawi, etc., freely admit that this is the meaning of the text. Thus, commenting on the passage quoted above from Sura Al-Isra' Baizawi says, “That is to say, we have only abstained from sending thee with miracles as the Quraish demand, because the former peoples, those of Ad and Thamud gave them the lie, and so likewise would those of Mecca, and they would otherwise have been destroyed according to our wont (i.e., if they had rejected the miracles), so we determined not to destroy them, seeing that there are amongst them those who believe or will have believing seed.” Does not Baizawi make it clear that the reason for not sending Muhammad with miracles is stated in the Qur’an to be, because God know that, even if sent, the people would not have believed, and as a result they would have been destroyed; so in mercy he abstained from sending miracles? Husein in his famous commentary says the same, “God says that, People of ancient times demanded miracles, and I by my prophets showed many, such as bringing out a she-camel from a stone for the tribe of Thamud; in this way miracles were worked for others also, but they denounced them as false, and were consequently absolutely destroyed. Moreover, if I show the miracles which these people ask for, verily they also will fail to be satisfied, consequently it will be necessary by way of punishment to destroy them as well. But I have formerly determined that I will not destroy them, because many righteous persons will be born among their descendants.” Imam Razi says that God suited the miracles of His messengers to the time and circumstances of the various peoples to whom they were sent. Thus, magic or sorcery being in the ascendant in the days of Moses, the miracles shown by him were of that nature. In the time of Jesus the science of medicine was much practised, hence Jesus was sent to heal the sick and raise the dead. For the same reason, as beauty of composition was the distinguishing feature of Muhammad's time, the miracle given to him was the wondrous eloquence of the Qur’an. From these words of the Imam it is clear that he also candidly admitted that Muhammad worked no miracle—the Qur’an was sufficient.
It is interesting to note here the views of a modern champion of Islam of whom Indian Muslims are never tired of speaking. We refer to none other than the Liverpool solicitor Quilliam who has professed Islam, and, in consequence, been honoured with more than one title from the Sultan of Turkey. What, then, does Mr. Quilliam teach concerning Muhammad's power to work miracles? We let the Liverpool solicitor speak for himself. In his book, the “Faith of Islam,” page 42, he says, "Muhammad's adversaries answered this by requesting him to work a miracle in proof of his divine mission; but he refused, saying that he was sent to spread the truth and not to perform miracles . . . . . No proof, indeed, has ever been adduced that Muhammad at any time descended to any artifices or pseudo miracles to enforce his doctrines or to establish his claims to be one of the prophets of God. On the contrary, he relied entirely upon common sense, reason and eloquence.”
Thus it is certain that when, according to the clear teaching of the Qur’an, confirmed by the testimony of the leading Muslim commentators, Muhammad worked no miracle in proof of his claims, then every thinking man must reject the miracles recorded in the Traditions, which were written many years afterwards, as legendary and unhistorical. There remains, then—the Qur’an.
That the Arabic Qur’an cannot be regarded as a miracle is clear from many considerations; indeed it is strange, with the evidence of that book before us, that it should be necessary for us to demonstrate this fact at all; for does not the fact, recorded in the Qur’an, that the Arabs again and again demanded a miracle from Muhammad, conclusively show that, in their opinion, the Arabic Qur’an was not a miracle; that, in fact, it differed little from the writings of many others of their poets such as Amr-al-Qays, Mutanabby, Hariry, Coss, Lokman, etc. Indeed, it is well known that, in the opinion of many Muslims, the Qur’an can be equalled as a literary production, and is not to be regarded as a miracle. Thus, for example, the sect of Muslims known as Mutazilahs say that,
إن الناس قادرون على مثل هذا القرآن فصاحةً ونظماً وبلاغةً
“Man has the power to compose a book equal to the Qur’an in poetic beauty and eloquence.” Again, Sharustani writes thus in his book concerning Majdar,
إبطاله إعجاز القرآن من جهة الفصاحة والبلاغة
“He used to consider as false the opinion that the poetic beauty and eloquence of the Qur’an constitutes a miracle.”
It is said in the ‘Kitab-al-Muafiq’ that certain of the companions of Muhammad doubted certain verses as being part of the Qur’an. Thus Ibn Masud, for example, held that the Al-Fatihah did not belong to it. But if the literary style of the Qur’an were so incomparably superior to all other writings as to constitute it a miracle, it would not have been possible for such differences of opinion to exist. The very fact that there existed such differences of opinion concerning certain portions of the Qur’an clearly shows that it in no way differed from other writings of the time.
The same remarks apply to the difficulties which arose at the time of the compilation of the Qur’an. It is said in the ‘Kitab-al-Muafiq’ that, when the various verses of the Qur’an were being collected, if a verse was presented to the collectors by some one unknown to them, it was only after thorough investigation—as to the time and circumstances under which it was delivered, etc.,—that it was accepted and incorporated into the Qur’an. Now, is it not clear to anyone, who will take the trouble to think, that, if the diction and eloquence of the verses were evidence of the miraculous, then such examination would have been superfluous? A genuine verse would at once have been recognized as such by its own intrinsic excellence.
But even granting that the Qur’an is the most eloquent book in the Arabic language: that fact does not constitute it a miracle. It is an exhibition of intellectual power—nothing more; for poetic fancy and eloquence of speech is often found in the humblest walks of life. A miracle is something which, to our limited senses, is outside the ordinary laws of nature; but no book, however elegant its diction or exalted its thought, can be considered that. Kali Das stands unrivalled in India as a writer; will our Muhammadan brethren, then, admit that the writings of the infidel Kali Das are inspired?
It is certainly a striking fact that he who claimed to be the last great prophet, and whose law is said to supersede all others, confessed himself quite unable to work miracles. This fact serves to emphasize the contention of this little book that, according to the testimony of the Qur’an itself, Jesus Christ stands high above all other prophets. Let the impartial reader earnestly weigh these facts, and yield to the claims of Him whose name is above every name.
Much more might be written to prove the pre-eminence of the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, but we content ourselves with one more quotation.
In the traditions of Muhammad recorded by Muslims we find these startling words regarding Jesus the Messiah,
لَيُوشِكَنَّ أَنْ يَنْزِلَ فِيكُمْ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ عليه الصلاة والسلام حَكَمًا مُقْسِطًا
“There is no doubt that the Son of Mary, on whom be blessing and peace, shall descend in the midst of you as righteous judge.” 13 We have read both the Bible and the Qur’an through from cover to cover, and we have read many of the Traditions of Muhammad; but we have never met such language as this used of any besides Jesus. These words of Muhammad find striking confirmation in the Injil where it is written, “But when the Son of man (Jesus) shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory; and before him shall he gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33).
Surely it is our highest wisdom to take refuge with such an one whom both the Injil and Muhammad describe as the Judge of men.
Thus we have abundantly proved that the Qur’an, no less than the Bible, raises Jesus the Messiah high above all other prophets, and applies to Him titles such as can be claimed for no other. It is in His line—the line of Israel—that all the nations of the earth are to be blessed; His mother it is who was preferred above all the women of the earth, whilst she and her Son alone have been made a sign unto all creatures. Of Christ alone is it said that He was born miraculously from a virgin, being the very Word of God which became incarnate in Mary. To no one else but Jesus do Muslims give the exalted title, ‘Spirit of God’', and to none other does the Qur’an ascribe the honour of the Messiah. Jesus alone of all the prophets is represented in both Qur’an and Traditions as perfectly sinless, whilst of none other does the Qur’an say, ‘Honourable in this world and in the next.’ The miracles of Jesus stand unique and unequalled in the annals of Islam, and to none other has Muhammad given the divine title, Judge of men.
Thus the Qur’an gives precious glimpses of the Messiah's greatness, but stops short of unveiling His glorious perfections and divine majesty. It leads to the portal, but fails to open the door; it kindles the flame, but it leaves in the heart a longing and unsatisfied desire. Will you, then, my Muslim reader, he content to leave this important question, with which your eternal interests are bound up, to remain unsolved? God forbid! Rather wisdom bids us go to the Tourat and the Injil where the Messiah stands revealed in all His glorious perfections as the only begotten Son of God. Does not the pious Moslem pray day by day,
اهدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
“Guide us in the right way; the way of those on whom Thou hast been gracious; not of those against whom Thou hast been angry, nor of those who have gone astray”? 14 Who are those to whom God has been gracious, but the servants of God: the Prophets of old, such as Abraham and Moses and David? These men looked forward in faith to the coming of the promised Messiah, and beheld in Him the great hope of men. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” 15 To them, then, we must go: to the Tourat, the Zabur and the Books of the Prophets, for thus shall we learn the way of faith in which these great ones trod, and find Him of whom they spoke. Moreover, it is in the Injil itself that we find the full revelation of that Christ of whom the Qur’an speaks in such high terms. The Injil also, then, we must read; for thus shall we learn of Him who is the fulfilment of prophecy, and find the way of eternal life. Let us not neglect the solemn words of the Messiah Himself revealed to us in the Injil, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” 16
11. John 10:17-18
14. Sura Al-Fatiha 1: 6-7
15. Hebrews 11:13
16. John 14:6